Red, Ready, but will keep

2011 Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

2011 Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Red | Ready, but will keep | Michael Hall | Code:  24801 | 2011 | Australia > South Australia > Barossa Valley | Syrah/Shiraz | Medium Bodied, Dry | 14.0 % alcohol

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The Producer

Michael Hall

Michael Hall

Englishman Michael Hall’s first career was as a jewellery valuation expert to the top auction houses, but his passion for all his adult life has been wine. After graduating with top honours in Wine Science from Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, and after stints learning the ropes at various top wine estates in Australia and Europe, Michael recently set up his own winery in the Barossa Valley.

His sole objective is to make wines which reflect their individual terroir, and to this end he sources fruit from carefully chosen plots throughout the best wine-producing regions of South Australia to produce small-volume, highly individual wines which are very expressive of their origins. Michael’s stated aim is to make wines which will be “loved by some rather than liked by all”.

The response and critical acclaim has been remarkable. James Halliday and Nick Stock, Australia’s foremost wine critics, have consistently awarded marks in the high 90s.

Moreover, it’s clear that Michael Hall's wines are outstanding representations of the trend, rapidly gathering pace in Australia, and much in favour with us, to champion specific sub-districts and terroirs which are capable of producing wines of exceptional personality, a welcome antidote to the bland , mass-produced offerings which dominate our supermarket shelves.

The Grape

Syrah/Shiraz

Syrah/Shiraz

A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.

It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.

South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.

The Region

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley is the South Australia's wine industry's birthplace. Currently into its fifth generation, it dates back to 1839 when George Fife Angas’ South Australian Company purchased 28,000 acres at a £1 per acre and sold them onto landed gentry, mostly German Lutherans. The first vines were planted in 1843 in Bethany, and by the 1870s – with Europe ravaged by war and Phylloxera - Gladstone’s British government complemented its colonies with preferential duties.

Fortified wines, strong enough to survive the 20,000km journey, flooded the British market. Churchill followed, between the Wars, re-affirming Australia’s position as a leading supplier of ‘Empire wines’. After the Second World War, mass European immigration saw a move to lighter wines, as confirmed by Grange Hermitage’s creation during the 1950s. Stainless-steel vats and refrigeration improved the quality of the dry table wines on offer, with table wine consumption exceeding fortified for the first time in 1970.

Averaging 200 to 400 metres’ altitude, the region covers 6,500 hectares of mainly terra rossa loam over limestone, as well as some warmer, sandier sites – the Cambrian limestone being far more visible along the eastern boundary (the Barossa Ranges) with Eden Valley. Following a diagonal shape, Lyndoch at the southern end nearest Gulf St Vincent is the region’s coolest spot, benefiting from sea fogs, while Nuriootpa (further north) is warmer; hot northerlies can be offset by sea breezes. The region is also home to the country’s largest concentration of 100-year-old-vine ShirazGrenache and Mourvedre.

Barossa Valley Shiraz is one of the country’s most identifiable and famous red wine styles, produced to a high quality by the likes of Rockford, Elderton, Torbreck and Dean Hewitson. Grenache and Mourvèdre are two of the region’s hidden gems, often blended with Shiraz, yet occasionally released as single vineyard styles such as Hewitson’s ‘Old Garden’, whose vines date back to 1853. Cabernet Sauvignon is a less highly-regarded cultivar.

Wines are traditionally vinified in open concrete fermenters before being cleaned up and finished in American and French oak barrels or ‘puncheons’ of approximately 600 litres. Barossa Shiraz should be rich, spicy and suave, with hints of leather and pepper.

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